Discussion:
[tor dot com] Five Extremely Unscientific Methods for Picking Your Next Book
James Nicoll
2021-09-07 16:14:01 UTC
Five Extremely Unscientific Methods for Picking Your Next Book
https://www.tor.com/2021/09/07/five-extremely-unscientific-methods-for-picking-your-next-book/
--
My reviews can be found at http://jamesdavisnicoll.com/
My tor pieces at https://www.tor.com/author/james-davis-nicoll/
My Dreamwidth at https://james-davis-nicoll.dreamwidth.org/
My patreon is at https://www.patreon.com/jamesdnicoll
Martin
2021-09-07 23:58:36 UTC
Post by James Nicoll
Five Extremely Unscientific Methods for Picking Your Next Book
https://www.tor.com/2021/09/07/five-extremely-unscientific-methods-for-picking-your-next-book/
--
My reviews can be found at http://jamesdavisnicoll.com/
My tor pieces at https://www.tor.com/author/james-davis-nicoll/
My Dreamwidth at https://james-davis-nicoll.dreamwidth.org/
My patreon is at https://www.patreon.com/jamesdnicoll
Here's my current method to choose what to read. I've recently had occasion to hang out in a room that's full of old books that I've never read, started and bounced off, or haven't read in decades. I decided to start working through some of them. So far I've read:

The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins (never read before). An early detective novel set in Victorian England, quite enjoyable.

Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank (read decades ago, mostly forgotten). Pretty good post-nuclear-war novel.

Captain from Castile by Samuel Shellabarger (never read before). Terrific adventure novel set in 16th-century Spain and Mexico.

The Dresden Files novels by Jim Butcher (read the first when it came out, bounced off the second). This time I made it through the first two and bounced off the third.

Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome (tried decades ago, bounced off). A classic of Victorian humor. This time I'm thoroughly enjoying it, possibly because I've since read To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis, which I absolutely loved.
Dorothy J Heydt
2021-09-08 00:39:09 UTC
Martin <***@gmail.com> wrote:

...
Post by Martin
Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome (tried decades ago, bounced
off). A classic of Victorian humor. This time I'm thoroughly enjoying
it, possibly because I've since read To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie
Willis, which I absolutely loved.
If it's at all convenient--and if you haven't read them before,
and/or not recently enough to remember them--before rereading the
Willis, read a lot of the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries by Dorothy
L. Sayers. At a bare minimum, read _Strong Poison_.
--
Dorothy J. Heydt
Vallejo, California
djheydt at gmail dot com
Www.kithrup.com/~djheydt/
Paul S Person
2021-09-08 15:54:26 UTC
Post by Martin
Post by James Nicoll
Five Extremely Unscientific Methods for Picking Your Next Book
https://www.tor.com/2021/09/07/five-extremely-unscientific-methods-for-picking-your-next-book/
--
My reviews can be found at http://jamesdavisnicoll.com/
My tor pieces at https://www.tor.com/author/james-davis-nicoll/
My Dreamwidth at https://james-davis-nicoll.dreamwidth.org/
My patreon is at https://www.patreon.com/jamesdnicoll
The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins (never read before). An early detective novel set in Victorian England, quite enjoyable.
My understanding has been that this was the first detective novel. But
since I wasn't around when it was published, I can't really say for
sure.

If you liked it, /The Woman in White/ is an interesting mystery
structured, like /Dracula/, of different parts by different people.

And /No Name/ is a novel of female determination which, IIRC, was
considered quite advanced in its day.
Post by Martin
Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank (read decades ago, mostly forgotten). Pretty good post-nuclear-war novel.
Captain from Castile by Samuel Shellabarger (never read before). Terrific adventure novel set in 16th-century Spain and Mexico.
The Dresden Files novels by Jim Butcher (read the first when it came out, bounced off the second). This time I made it through the first two and bounced off the third.
Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome (tried decades ago, bounced off). A classic of Victorian humor. This time I'm thoroughly enjoying it, possibly because I've since read To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis, which I absolutely loved.
--
"I begin to envy Petronius."
"I have envied him long since."
Paul S Person
2021-09-09 15:27:37 UTC
On Wed, 8 Sep 2021 14:20:26 -0700 (PDT), William Hyde
Post by Paul S Person
Post by James Nicoll
Five Extremely Unscientific Methods for Picking Your Next Book
https://www.tor.com/2021/09/07/five-extremely-unscientific-methods-for-picking-your-next-book/
--
My reviews can be found at http://jamesdavisnicoll.com/
My tor pieces at https://www.tor.com/author/james-davis-nicoll/
My Dreamwidth at https://james-davis-nicoll.dreamwidth.org/
My patreon is at https://www.patreon.com/jamesdnicoll
The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins (never read before). An early detective novel set in Victorian England, quite enjoyable.
My understanding has been that this was the first detective novel. But
since I wasn't around when it was published, I can't really say for
sure.
If you liked it, /The Woman in White/ is an interesting mystery
structured, like /Dracula/, of different parts by different people.
An increasingly opium addicted Wilkie Collins is the narrator in Dan Simmons novel "Drood", over the period that covers his friendship with Dickens and Collins' four most successful novels (the above plus "Armadale". Despite certain problems with Mr Simmons' writings of late, I recommend this book.
I read all four back when I last read Collins, but, for some reason, I
have no particular memory of /Armadale/. Which is why I didn't list
it.

Back then, I was buying the books in paper so I focused on the four
most successful (IIRC, also called "major") novels.

A glance at the enormous shelf of Dickens small hardcovers was one of
the things that led me to start buying Kindle eBooks instead. Well,
that and the inevitable shelf-space problems posed by paper books.
It is not necessary to read "The Mystery of Edwin Drood" in advance. A few scenes are more amusing if you have, but nothing essential is missed if you have not.
I did read it, but stopped when somebody's continuation started.

I was, after all, reading /Dickens/.
--
"I begin to envy Petronius."
"I have envied him long since."
William Hyde
2021-09-09 20:04:43 UTC
Post by Paul S Person
On Wed, 8 Sep 2021 14:20:26 -0700 (PDT), William Hyde
Post by Paul S Person
Post by James Nicoll
Five Extremely Unscientific Methods for Picking Your Next Book
https://www.tor.com/2021/09/07/five-extremely-unscientific-methods-for-picking-your-next-book/
--
My reviews can be found at http://jamesdavisnicoll.com/
My tor pieces at https://www.tor.com/author/james-davis-nicoll/
My Dreamwidth at https://james-davis-nicoll.dreamwidth.org/
My patreon is at https://www.patreon.com/jamesdnicoll
The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins (never read before). An early detective novel set in Victorian England, quite enjoyable.
My understanding has been that this was the first detective novel. But
since I wasn't around when it was published, I can't really say for
sure.
If you liked it, /The Woman in White/ is an interesting mystery
structured, like /Dracula/, of different parts by different people.
An increasingly opium addicted Wilkie Collins is the narrator in Dan Simmons novel "Drood", over the period that covers his friendship with Dickens and Collins' four most successful novels (the above plus "Armadale". Despite certain problems with Mr Simmons' writings of late, I recommend this book.
I read all four back when I last read Collins, but, for some reason, I
have no particular memory of /Armadale/. Which is why I didn't list
it.
Back then, I was buying the books in paper so I focused on the four
most successful (IIRC, also called "major") novels.
A glance at the enormous shelf of Dickens small hardcovers was one of
the things that led me to start buying Kindle eBooks instead. Well,
that and the inevitable shelf-space problems posed by paper books.
It is not necessary to read "The Mystery of Edwin Drood" in advance. A few scenes are more amusing if you have, but nothing essential is missed if you have not.
I did read it, but stopped when somebody's continuation started.
I was, after all, reading /Dickens/.
Agreed. I have no interest in the continuations.

Speculations, on the other hand, I find interesting. One of my copies of Drood (no idea why I have two) has more pages dedicated to summarizing the various theories about his fate than there are pages in the novel.

Despite the fact that Dickens in conversation with his daughter and others made Drood's fate quite clear.

William Hyde
Andrew McDowell
2021-09-08 06:16:24 UTC
Post by James Nicoll
Five Extremely Unscientific Methods for Picking Your Next Book
https://www.tor.com/2021/09/07/five-extremely-unscientific-methods-for-picking-your-next-book/
--
My reviews can be found at http://jamesdavisnicoll.com/
My tor pieces at https://www.tor.com/author/james-davis-nicoll/
My Dreamwidth at https://james-davis-nicoll.dreamwidth.org/
My patreon is at https://www.patreon.com/jamesdnicoll
Just to note that there is a whole mathematical theory of repeatedly choosing between different offerings when you can only learn about these offerings by experience after choosing them - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multi-armed_bandit

One approximate strategy that you could practically follow for book-buying and other consumer choices is

Epsilon-greedy strategy:[29] The best lever is selected for a proportion 1 − ϵ {\displaystyle 1-\epsilon } 1-\epsilon of the trials, and a lever is selected at random (with uniform probability) for a proportion ϵ {\displaystyle \epsilon } \epsilon . A typical parameter value might be ϵ = 0.1 {\displaystyle \epsilon =0.1} \epsilon =0.1, but this can vary widely depending on circumstances and predilections.

(So go with whatever you have come to trust 90% of the time, but 10% of the time just pick at random)
Joy Beeson
2021-09-10 02:54:59 UTC
Infants! I remember when a paperback was twenty-five cents, with a
few very special books priced at thirty-five.

That was when you could buy a full-sized hamburger with everything for
a quarter.
--
Joy Beeson
joy beeson at centurylink dot net
http://wlweather.net/PAGEJOY/
J. Clarke
2021-09-10 04:15:34 UTC
On Thu, 09 Sep 2021 22:54:59 -0400, Joy Beeson
Post by Joy Beeson
Infants! I remember when a paperback was twenty-five cents, with a
few very special books priced at thirty-five.
That was when you could buy a full-sized hamburger with everything for
a quarter.
I'm not quite that old. I'm of the era when a good magazine with no
girlie pictures cost 75 cents (note, I'm paraphrasing Dick Van Dyke
speaking an an episode of his TV series).
The Horny Goat
2021-09-17 03:12:07 UTC
On Fri, 10 Sep 2021 00:15:34 -0400, J. Clarke
Post by J. Clarke
On Thu, 09 Sep 2021 22:54:59 -0400, Joy Beeson
Post by Joy Beeson
Infants! I remember when a paperback was twenty-five cents, with a
few very special books priced at thirty-five.
That was when you could buy a full-sized hamburger with everything for
a quarter.
I'm not quite that old. I'm of the era when a good magazine with no
girlie pictures cost 75 cents (note, I'm paraphrasing Dick Van Dyke
speaking an an episode of his TV series).
I remember those days - mind you I was 10 years old then and have just
started drawing pension now.
Dorothy J Heydt
2021-09-10 04:32:48 UTC
Post by Joy Beeson
Infants! I remember when a paperback was twenty-five cents, with a
few very special books priced at thirty-five.
That was when you could buy a full-sized hamburger with everything for
a quarter.
And Hal could fill the gas tank on his motor-scooter for a
quarter and get change back.
--
Dorothy J. Heydt
Vallejo, California
djheydt at gmail dot com
Www.kithrup.com/~djheydt/
J. Clarke
2021-09-10 05:18:20 UTC
Post by Dorothy J Heydt
Post by Joy Beeson
Infants! I remember when a paperback was twenty-five cents, with a
few very special books priced at thirty-five.
That was when you could buy a full-sized hamburger with everything for
a quarter.
And Hal could fill the gas tank on his motor-scooter for a
quarter and get change back.
I could fill up a Lincoln for 5 bucks.
Titus G
2021-09-10 06:09:39 UTC
Post by J. Clarke
Post by Dorothy J Heydt
Post by Joy Beeson
Infants! I remember when a paperback was twenty-five cents, with a
few very special books priced at thirty-five.
That was when you could buy a full-sized hamburger with everything for
a quarter.
And Hal could fill the gas tank on his motor-scooter for a
quarter and get change back.
I could fill up a Lincoln for 5 bucks.
I could fill up a woman's eyes with love for nothing.
(And a diaper/nappy, you old windbags/farts.)
Paul S Person
2021-09-10 15:13:27 UTC
On Thu, 09 Sep 2021 22:54:59 -0400, Joy Beeson
Post by Joy Beeson
Infants! I remember when a paperback was twenty-five cents, with a
few very special books priced at thirty-five.
That was when you could buy a full-sized hamburger with everything for
a quarter.
I may have a few of those lying around ...

and weren't McDonald's cheeseburgers 20 cents each at one time?
--
"I begin to envy Petronius."
"I have envied him long since."
Martin
2021-09-10 18:23:55 UTC
Post by J. Clarke
On Thu, 09 Sep 2021 22:54:59 -0400, Joy Beeson
Infants! I remember when a paperback was twenty-five cents, with a
few very special books priced at thirty-five.
That was when you could buy a full-sized hamburger with everything for
a quarter.
I may have a few of those lying around ...
and weren't McDonald's cheeseburgers 20 cents each at one time?
$0.19 in 1948 (which is about$2.19 today).
There was a Kelly's in Madison that sold 5 burgers for a dollar
in the late 1960's.
I remember Krystal burgers being 15 cents each. Of course it took at least four of them to make a meal.
J. Clarke
2021-09-10 22:17:39 UTC
Post by Martin
Post by J. Clarke
On Thu, 09 Sep 2021 22:54:59 -0400, Joy Beeson
Infants! I remember when a paperback was twenty-five cents, with a
few very special books priced at thirty-five.
That was when you could buy a full-sized hamburger with everything for
a quarter.
I may have a few of those lying around ...
and weren't McDonald's cheeseburgers 20 cents each at one time?
$0.19 in 1948 (which is about$2.19 today).
There was a Kelly's in Madison that sold 5 burgers for a dollar
in the late 1960's.
I remember Krystal burgers being 15 cents each. Of course it took at least four of them to make a meal.
What was the other chain with the microburgers?
J. Clarke
2021-09-11 01:09:25 UTC
Post by J. Clarke
Post by J. Clarke
On Thu, 09 Sep 2021 22:54:59 -0400, Joy Beeson
Infants! I remember when a paperback was twenty-five cents, with a
few very special books priced at thirty-five.
That was when you could buy a full-sized hamburger with everything for
a quarter.
I may have a few of those lying around ...
and weren't McDonald's cheeseburgers 20 cents each at one time?
$0.19 in 1948 (which is about$2.19 today).
There was a Kelly's in Madison that sold 5 burgers for a dollar
in the late 1960's.
I remember Krystal burgers being 15 cents each. Of course it took at least four of them to make a meal.
What was the other chain with the microburgers?
White Castle
That's the one. I'm reminded of the fellow who heard that someone had
eaten a record number of hamburgers. So he set out to break the
record, and he did. The record was set at White Castle. He forgot
the name and knew it had something to do with royalty, so he went to
Burger King. He survived the experience, however there was a point
where he didn't want to. Or so I was told.
Pt
Kevrob
2021-09-11 01:29:12 UTC
Post by J. Clarke
Post by J. Clarke
On Thu, 09 Sep 2021 22:54:59 -0400, Joy Beeson
Infants! I remember when a paperback was twenty-five cents, with a
few very special books priced at thirty-five.
That was when you could buy a full-sized hamburger with everything for
a quarter.
I may have a few of those lying around ...
and weren't McDonald's cheeseburgers 20 cents each at one time?
$0.19 in 1948 (which is about$2.19 today).
There was a Kelly's in Madison that sold 5 burgers for a dollar
in the late 1960's.
I remember Krystal burgers being 15 cents each. Of course it took at least four of them to make a meal.
What was the other chain with the microburgers?
White Castle
An issue of Astounding/Analog jumped from $0.35 to half a buck with the Nov.1959 issue, and stayed at$0.50 until it bumped up a dime with
the Aug 1966 cover date. Even the bedsheet issues were 4 bits. I was
not yet 10, and was too young to have been scarred when 32-page comics
went from 10 to 12 cents. 25 cent "80 page giants" weren't cut down to 64
pages until 1969. There was "shrinkflation" even then.

Pocket Books debuted at a quarter.

--
Kevin R
Chris Buckley
2021-09-11 13:08:11 UTC
Post by Kevrob
Post by J. Clarke
Post by J. Clarke
On Thu, 09 Sep 2021 22:54:59 -0400, Joy Beeson
Infants! I remember when a paperback was twenty-five cents, with a
few very special books priced at thirty-five.
That was when you could buy a full-sized hamburger with everything for
a quarter.
I may have a few of those lying around ...
and weren't McDonald's cheeseburgers 20 cents each at one time?
$0.19 in 1948 (which is about$2.19 today).
There was a Kelly's in Madison that sold 5 burgers for a dollar
in the late 1960's.
I remember Krystal burgers being 15 cents each. Of course it took at least four of them to make a meal.
What was the other chain with the microburgers?
White Castle
An issue of Astounding/Analog jumped from $0.35 to half a buck with the Nov.1959 issue, and stayed at$0.50 until it bumped up a dime with
the Aug 1966 cover date. Even the bedsheet issues were 4 bits. I was
not yet 10, and was too young to have been scarred when 32-page comics
went from 10 to 12 cents. 25 cent "80 page giants" weren't cut down to 64
pages until 1969. There was "shrinkflation" even then.
Pocket Books debuted at a quarter.
Thanks. I hadn't realized that Ballantine was that central to general
paperback publishing; I just knew of him for the science fiction.

Looking at my collection, I've only got a scattered few paperbacks at
the 25 cent price: reprints of big selling authors (several Signet
publishings of Heinlein, PermaBooks with Simak's _City_, Ace a bit later
with Asimov's famous _The Thousand Year Plan_). It looks like it wasn't
until the price point of 35 cents that SF publishing really took off.

Chris
William Hyde
2021-09-10 20:52:24 UTC
Infants! I remember when a paperback was twenty-five cents, with a
few very special books priced at thirty-five.
I still have the Eric Frank Russell collection, "Somewhere a Voice", which was sold new for 35 cents and the Burroughs novel "Beyond the Farthest Star", at 40. But they are thin books, and the day of the 35 cent paperback was just about over. Soon it was to be a standard fifty cents, sixty five for thicker books, seventy five for "Glory Road" and a budget-busting 95 cents for each volume of LOTR.

Then came "I Will Fear No Evil" breaking the dollar barrier at \$1.25 and worth not a penny of it.

William Hyde
p***@hotmail.com
2021-09-10 22:41:55 UTC
Infants! I remember when a paperback was twenty-five cents, with a
few very special books priced at thirty-five.
That was when you could buy a full-sized hamburger with everything for
a quarter.
I remember when you could indeed get a McDonald's hamburger for 25 cents
but I would not have called it full-sized. Actual full-sized burgers from Bridgeman's
or similar restaurants were several dollars at that time. Ace paperbacks were
40 cents then; I think the first one I bought new was the double _The Duplicators_
by Murray Leinster and _No Truce With Terra_ by Phillip High.

Peter Wezeman
anti-social Darwinist
Titus G
2021-09-10 04:36:23 UTC
Post by James Nicoll
Five Extremely Unscientific Methods for Picking Your Next Book
https://www.tor.com/2021/09/07/five-extremely-unscientific-methods-for-picking-your-next-book/
I am currently reading _The Quiet War_ by Paul McAuley, obliquely or
obtusely recommended by you after your reading the second in the series
in a recent Five of something. I had read the fourth in the series,
_Evenings Empires_ in 2014 not knowing it was part of a series. I had
rated it 4 stars but forgotten most of it. Common sense or unscientific?

So far TQW is great. I love all the different interest groups, the
customs, the background, everything and even though I know little of the
science, I can imagine what he is describing with the assistance of the
instant Kindle dictionary access. I have begun Part 2 so about 200 pages
in and am enthralled.
Titus G
2021-09-21 16:59:19 UTC
Post by Titus G
Post by James Nicoll
Five Extremely Unscientific Methods for Picking Your Next Book
https://www.tor.com/2021/09/07/five-extremely-unscientific-methods-for-picking-your-next-book/
I am currently reading _The Quiet War_ by Paul McAuley, obliquely or
obtusely recommended by you after your reading the second in the series
in a recent Five of something. I had read the fourth in the series,
_Evenings Empires_ in 2014 not knowing it was part of a series. I had
rated it 4 stars but forgotten most of it. Common sense or unscientific?
I have now read _Gardens of the Sun_ the second in the "The Quiet War"
series by Paul McAuley. These two books tell one story with the third
and fourth in the series stand alone tales in the future from the end of
Gardens in the Sun.
Both books were brilliant not just for the intrigues, the characters,
the quirky emphasis on degree of consanguinity, the pragmatic
ruthlessness, the plot, but also the science of colonising and living in
moons and satellites of Jupiter and Saturn. Even though above and beyond
my scientific knowledge and vocabulary, I could visualise what he was
writing about with the assistance of the Kindle instant dictionary.
There was also much astronomy with most of the saga in the vicinity of
Jupiter, Saturn and Neptune.
Alistair Reynolds describes McAuley as a writer with a Sizzling Range,
Luminous Intelligence and Great Humanity.